Today I received a question from a man in Mumbai asking if I went into being a psychologist so I could be in a position to judge people. He expressed the sentiment that everyone must understand that we are in no place to judge others and that he prefers a live at let live philosophy.
Here's my response:
Thanks for the post. Since many people share your opinion, I think this question is particularly important to address.
I can understand that without an introduction to the type of treatment I practice, one may assume therapists just want to judge people. In fact, it is just the opposite! People come into my office with a series of judgments about themselves that we work together to debunk. I've seen people who have made wonderful contributions to society but seem to think that they are completely worthless. My job is simply to neutralize judgments. We help people to stop harshly judging themselves so that they can function better and suffer less.
While many people are not in need of treatment, I'm afraid that many people are seriously troubled and on the fence abut whether or not they should end their own lives. With suicidal people, a live and let live philosophy wouldn't exactly work out. And just because someone is contemplating suicide, does not make them worthless and deserving to die, it just means they are suffering from what can feel like a tortured internal experience. They come to treatment of their own volition because there is a piece of them that wants to get better. Therapists don't force clients into treatment.
There have been many research studies on the type of therapy I do showing that the techniques are in fact useful in helping people build a life worth living. Therapy, when practiced well, is much more than a series of judgments - it is an effective way to retrain people's thoughts and behaviors.